The Divine Wait: Jesus Could Have Healed Lazarus of His Sickness & the Father Could Have Delivered Jesus From Suffering

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first nineteen verses of the twelfth chapter. “Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always” (John 12:1-8).

 

            “Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus” (John 12:9-11).

 

            “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’ colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after him” (John 12:12-19).

 

            AFTER THE MIRACLE! AFTER THE RESURRECTION! AFTER DEATH WAS REVOKED AND LIFE PREVAILED! AFTER THE GRAVE WAS OPENED! DEAD MEN LIVE AGAIN! DEAD MEAN LIVE TO TELL THE TALE! DEAD MEN WALK AGAIN! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will encounter the events which would take place immediately after the resurrection of Lazarus who we learned in the previous chapter was sick and would ultimately end up dying. If you take the time to read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find the events which take place here as being that which would take place after Lazarus had died as a direct result of the sickness within his body and after he had been buried in the grave for four days. In the previous chapter you will find and encounter the fact that Lazarus was a man from Bethany who was brother to Mary and Martha and how it would be this Mary who would anoint the feet of Jesus with precious ointment and would dry those same feet with the hairs of her head. In fact it is when you come to the twelfth chapter of this particular gospel you find the actual event referenced in the eleventh chapter taking place—and not only taking place but taking place after Jesus had raised her brother from death to life.

 

            As you begin reading with and from the first verse of the twelfth chapter you will find the events taking place six days before the Passover. In the opening verses of this twelfth chapter you will find that six days before the Passover Jesus would come to Bethany where Lazarus which was dead was present very much alive and present among his sisters Mary and Martha. Oh I have to admit that how the twelfth chapter begins is truly astonishing when you take the time to consider it for it begins with the context of the Passover and how Jesus would come to Bethany just before that particular Jewish feast. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear where Jesus would have gone after raising Lazarus from death to life and calling him forth from his grave. The twelfth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John begins with Jesus returning to the place of resurrection and returning to the place where death was revoked and life would prevail. Jesus would return to the place where the stone was rolled away from the entrance of the tomb, to the place where He would call forth he who was dead out of the grave and where a dead man emerged from the tomb very much alive. What’s more is that in the eleventh chapter of this gospel you will find that when Jesus called for the stone to be rolled away and removed Lazarus’ sister attempted to urge Him against doing such a thing for her brother Lazarus had been in the tomb four days at that point. Having been in the tomb for four days the physical body of Lazarus would have undoubtedly begun to decay and would have begun to stink. It was this particular reality the sister of Lazarus attempted to mention unto Lazarus when Jesus called for the removal of the stone. What we must realize and understand is that in order for resurrection to take place and in order for he who was dead to come forth from the grave the stone had to be rolled away and removed.

 

            THE STONE HAS TO BE ROLLED AWAY! THE STONE HAS TO BE REMOVED! Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of what is found in this particular passage of Scripture for what we find is Jesus showing up to the tomb of Lazarus after he had been dead four days. Lazarus had been dead for four days and his lifeless body had lie within the belly of that borrowed tomb completely separated and removed from the world. We must needs recognize and understand just how incredible this reality truly is as it draws and calls our attention to the truth surrounding Lazarus being called forth from the tomb and from that which had previously held his lifeless body. Although Jesus would not show up at the bedside of Lazarus when he was sick He would show up at the tomb where Lazarus’ lifeless body had been placed after the sickness in his body had claimed his life. If there is one thing we must recognize when reading this passage of Scripture it’s that in order for Lazarus to be raised from death to life and to come forth from the grave the stone needed to be rolled away and removed. The stone could not remain before the entrance of the tomb for long as when Jesus would show up He would call for the stone to be removed. That stone was in essence that which separated Lazarus from the world while death is what would separate Lazarus from life and from the living. CUT OFF FROM THE LAND OF THE LIVING! CUT OFF FROM THE WORLD AND SEPARATED FROM THE LIVING! Oh it is truly something worth thinking about when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for within it we find Jesus calling for the stone to be rolled away from the entrance of the tomb that the way from death to life might be made manifested in the person of Lazarus.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering that which is found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with the fact that the tomb represented Lazarus being cut off from the living while the stone represented Lazarus being cut off from the world. It’s actually quite interesting to read the words found in this passage for within it we find Lazarus being dead and buried in the midst of the tomb and how his lifeless body lie there for four days. It would be within and through this process of death that we find three distinct elements which Jesus needed to remove out of the way for Lazarus to truly experience resurrection life. Jesus would show up at the tomb where Lazarus’ lifeless body had been laid and it would be there in the midst of that place Jesus would not only call for the stone to be rolled away and removed from the entrance of the tomb but would also call he who was previously dead to emerge and come forth from the grave. Not only this but we find how after Lazarus emerged from the tomb very much alive after having been dead for four days Jesus called for the graveclothes to be removed and his being loosed and let go. It is truly something to read the words found in the eleventh chapter and to discover the removal of the stone and the removal of the grave clothes and how both were necessary to produce within the person of Lazarus resurrection from the dead. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to simply reverse death within the person of Lazarus and restore him from death to life. There were certain additional elements which needed to take place within the life of Lazarus for him to truly walk in and experience that resurrection power. In order for Lazarus to truly experience and walk in resurrection life the stone would need to be rolled away, the way out of the tomb would need to be made, and the grave clothes in which He had been wrapped and buried would need to be removed.

 

            CUT OFF FROM THE LAND OF THE LIVING! SEPARATED FROM THE WORLD! BOUND AND UNABLE TO MOVE FREELY! Oh I absolutely love reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous miracle and supernatural work which would take place in Bethany four days after Lazarus had died and after his physical body had been placed within a tomb. Although Jesus would not show up when Lazarus was sick and while he was still alive within this world He would show up four days after he had been dead and buried within the tomb. What we must needs realize and recognize is that there are times when we look for the glory of God to be manifested in life and yet the glory of God cannot and will not be manifested in life but in death. There are times when we look for the glory of God to be manifested in sickness and even in suffering and yet we fail to recognize and discern that the glory of God is designed to be manifested in resurrection. Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding the sickness of Lazarus—and not only the sickness of Lazarus but also the suffering of Jesus—is that it was love that would restrain action in the midst of both. The apostle John made it quite clear in the eleventh chapter that Jesus loved Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha. There is absolutely no denying the words and language that is found within this passage of Scripture for within it we find it being written and declared how Jesus did indeed and did in fact love Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha. Despite this love for this trio of siblings, however, it would not free and permit Jesus to act immediately when He received report that Lazarus had grown and become sick.

 

            As I read the words found in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John I encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth that Lazarus was indeed loved by Jesus, however, despite the fact that Lazarus was loved by Jesus that love was restrained and held back. Despite the fact that Lazarus was sick and that sickness would ultimately result in death in his physical body the love which Jesus had for and toward him would not be enough to allow and permit Him to act. We would like to think that love alone was enough to show up at the bedside of Lazarus and to not only heal him but also raise him up from his bed of affliction. The truth of the matter, however, is that love itself was not enough to allow Jesus to depart from where He was and rush to Lazarus’ side when report came that he was sick. OH this particular truth is such that has the potential to radically shake us and shake our faith for we would like to think that love is enough to cause Jesus to act. The truth of the matter, however, is that love wasn’t enough for Jesus to depart from where He was and immediately rush to the side of Lazarus and call him forth from his bed of affliction. We would like to believe that love alone was enough for Jesus to come unto that place where Lazarus had lie sick there in Bethany and yet what we find in this passage of Scripture is that even though Jesus loved Lazarus that love would need to be submitted to the divine will of the Father. Oh Jesus could have shown up at the bedside of Lazarus and raised him up from that bed of sickness and affliction and yet I am convinced that His doing so would have been a different manifestation of the temptation in the wilderness when Satan tempted Him to turn stones into bread. You will recall how Satan came unto Jesus in the wilderness and how the very first temptation he presented to him was turning stones into bread if He was truly the Son of God.

 

            I have to admit that I am completely and utterly fascinated with the narrative and account of Lazarus becoming sick and how directly linked to this sickness was the understand that Jesus loved Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha. The apostle John makes it absolutely clear that Jesus did indeed and did in fact love Lazarus and his two sisters and yet how that love was restrained and held back by the divine will and glory of the Father. What makes this passage all the more interesting is when you consider the fact that Jesus would declare that this sickness would not end and result in death but that the glory of God might be manifested and that the Son would be glorified through it. This is actually quite unique when you read the words found in the passage of Scripture for within it we find this sickness ultimately claiming the life of Lazarus. Scripture is unclear how long Lazarus had been sick before he died, however, we do know that this sickness—in the natural—would result in his ultimately dying and being buried in the midst of tomb in the heart of the earth. The words which Jesus would speak concerning Lazarus are truly captivating when you take the time to consider them for Jesus would declare that Lazarus’ sickness would not be unto death but rather that the glory of God might be manifested in and through his life in the earth. What an incredible statement this would truly be for the account written by the apostle John does in fact reveal that Lazarus would indeed die and that his body would be buried in the midst of a tomb. Jesus would remain and abide where he was for two more days even after hearing that Lazarus His friend whom He loved was sick.

 

            There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if Jesus heard the report that Lazarus His friend whom He loved was sick and if He desired and longed to go unto Him. Scripture is entirely and altogether silent concerning this particular truth and yet I can’t help but think about and wonder if within the heart and soul of Jesus He desired and longed to go unto His friend whom He loved. I have to admit that I am inclined to believe that there was a part within Jesus—that part within the human side and nature which He had taken upon Himself—that would have liked to have gone unto Lazarus and healed him of this sickness. I have to believe that there was perhaps a part within the heart and soul of Jesus that longed and yearned to make the journey unto His friend whom He loved and raise him up from his bed of affliction and yet the truth of the matter is that He was physically restrained from doing so. One of the greatest truths surrounding the narrative of Lazarus becoming sick is that Jesus loved this man who was considered to be a friend together with his two sisters. Despite Jesus loving Lazarus and his two sisters we find that love alone wasn’t enough for Jesus to act at that particular point in time. It was indeed true that Jesus loved Lazarus and his two sisters, however, that love would need to be submitted to the glory of God and unto the divine will of the Father. If there is one thing we must needs realize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that love was and would be restrained in the midst of sickness when I am sure everything inside Jesus would have wanted to go unto Lazarus and heal him. I am sure that in the natural and according to the human side of Jesus He would have desired to go unto. Lazarus to heal him of the sickness which was present within his physical body and yet the truth of the matter is that this love which Jesus had toward Lazarus and his sisters would be restrained by the glory of God and the divine will of the Father.

 

            The narrative of Lazarus being sick and how Jesus loved both he and his sisters is truly captivating when you take the time to think about it for it has a strong and powerful link and connection to the suffering and death of Jesus. There is not about it that Jesus did indeed and did in fact love Lazarus and his two sisters and yet that love was not enough for Jesus to immediately rush to the help of Lazarus and heal him of his sickness. Similarly we must needs recognize and understand that this same reality and principle was manifested within the life of Jesus after He had been betrayed by one of His own and handed over into the hands of the religious and ultimately sinners. Each of the four gospels describe how after Jesus was handed over to the hands of the religious He would begin suffering in the flesh as He would be punched and smacked, after He would be tortured by Roman guards in the Praetorium, after a crown of thorns was placed upon His head, after His face was spit upon and so much more. We know that after Jesus emerged from the waters of the Jordan River after having been baptized by John the Baptist the heavens were opened and the voice of the Father spoke and emphatically declared this man to be His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. It would be there at the Jordan River where the Father would not only affirm His love for Jesus but would also affirm His pleasure for His only begotten Son. This is important for us to recognize and understand when reading the words found within the four gospels for there is absolutely no doubt the Father loved the Son. What’s more is that even Jesus Himself would declare how the Father loved the Son and how the Father had given all things into the hands of the Son. It is absolutely unmistakable when reading the four gospels that the Father did indeed and did in fact love the Son and was well pleased with Him.

 

            As I sit here right now I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that in the same manner as the love of Jesus for Lazarus was restrained so also was the love of the Father restrained. The same way the love of Jesus was restrained in the sickness of Lazarus so also was the love of the Father restrained in the suffering of Jesus. Oh this is something we must needs pay close attention to for it brings us face to face with something we would rather not talk about—much less admit unto ourselves or unto others. When we think and speak about the sickness of Lazarus and the suffering of Jesus we must needs admit and acknowledge the fact that love was indeed restrained and that love was held back and prevented from acting. It is truly something worth mentioning when reading these passages of Scripture that although love was very much real and present it was restrained and held back. This is something we have great need of paying attention to and recognizing for there are times when love is restrained within our own lives. There are times when we would like to think that the love of the Father and the love of the Son is enough for them to act within our hearts and lives and yet the truth of the matter is that this love can be restrained and held back in sickness and in suffering that it might be manifested in death. In both the case of Lazarus and Jesus we find love being restrained and held back and how death would ultimately ensue as both men would die and their physical bodies be buried in a tomb within the heart of the earth. In the case of Lazarus we find him being sick and ultimately dying and how the love which Jesus had for and toward him would prevent Him from immediately rushing to the aid of Lazarus and raising him up from his bed of affliction. Similarly we find the suffering of Jesus to carry the same weight and significance for although the Father loved the Son that love wasn’t enough for the Father to act on behalf of His Son and end the suffering.

 

            JESUS COULD HAVE HEALED LAZARUS AND THE FATHER COULD HAVE ENDED THE SUFFERING OF JESUS! WHEN LOVE IS PREVENTED FROM HEALING THE SICK AND DELIVERING THE SUFFERING! Within both of these narratives we find how love was restrained and prevented from acting on behalf of those who found themselves in a great place of need. Lazarus was indeed sick and that sickness would ultimately claim his life and yet love was restrained from showing up and healing him when called. WHEN LOVE IS CALLED! WHEN LOVE IS APPEALED TO! Oh how incredibly challenging it is to read the narrative and account of Lazarus and see how love was indeed called and was indeed summoned and yet despite the fact that love was called and summoned in would be restrained from acting. Despite the fact that love was called and love was summoned it would be restrained from acting as it would be fully and completely submitted to the divine will of the Father and unto the glory of God. With this being said I feel compelled to call and draw your attention to the fact that Jesus could have showed up in Bethany to the place where Lazarus lie sick and in bed and He could have healed him. Jesus could have showed up in Bethany and healed Lazarus because he was His friend and because He loved him, however, I am absolutely convinced that doing so would have been absent the glory of God and apart from the will of the Father. One thing we must needs acknowledge and understand when reading the words found within this passage of Scripture is that love was indeed called and love was indeed summoned and yet how that love was restrained by the glory of God and the will of the Father. Not only this but that love was fully and completely submitted to the Father and would and could not operate outside the parameters and boundaries of the will of the Father.

 

            Perhaps one of the greatest truths we must needs recognize when reading the narratives and accounts of Lazarus and even Jesus is that there is a great need within our hearts and lives for our love to be submitted to the will of the Father. We must needs recognize and understand that our love must needs be submitted to the will of the Father and to the glory of God and that there are times when although love would compel us to act a certain way or engage in something very specific we are restrained from doing so because the glory of God needs to be manifested within the earth. We would like to think that love is indeed enough for us to act on certain occasions and to engage ourselves in certain things and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. We must needs recognize and understand that there are times within our lives when love would compel us to respond a certain way and yet how that love is restrained by and according to the divine will of the Father. What’s more is that when we read the narrative and account of Lazarus we must needs acknowledge the fact that Jesus could have showed up because of love and healed His friend and yet for Him to do so would have been to operate outside of and apart from the glory of God. Jesus would emphatically declare that this sickness within the physical body of Lazarus would not be unto death but that the glory of God might be manifested and with that being said we must conclude and come to the place where we recognize and understand that there was something much greater than love that was present within the life of Lazarus. There was something that was far greater and far better than the love which Jesus had for and toward Lazarus and his two sisters—namely, the glory of God which was to be manifested in the earth. Think about it—Jesus could have showed up and healed Lazarus from the sickness within his physical body and there would have been a certain amount of glory and power that would have been seen in that, however, there would have been something missing in the midst of it.

 

            HEALING IN SICKNESS, DELIVERANCE IN SUFFERING! If we are being honest with ourselves we would admit that healing needs to take place every time sickness is present and that deliverance needs to be present every time suffering takes place. What we must needs recognize and understand, however, is that there are times when love is not enough to move and operate within the realm of sickness and suffering and that there is something far greater than we could even think or imagine. Neither the disciples nor Mary and Martha knew, understood or recognized what needed to take place within the life of Lazarus and Mary and Martha perhaps struggled with the delay of Jesus and His not showing up when He was summoned and called. Oh one of the hardest parts about this narrative is that it suggests there are times when love is summoned and when love is called and yet love does not show up—or at least not immediately. This passage reveals that love did not immediately show up when it was called and when it was summoned, however, it would show up. What’s more is that love would not show up when it was summoned and called but it would show up when it would have seemed that all hope was gone and when everything was lost. Love would not show up when it would have been easy to prevent death, however, it would show up when it would seem to be too late and when death would have laid hold of this man named Lazarus. Oh dear reader you and I must needs understand that there are times when love does not show up when it is called and summoned and how we must needs recognize and understand that there might indeed and might in fact be something greater at work within our hearts and lives.

 

            Mary and Martha—and perhaps even their brother Lazarus who was sick—thought and believed that simply calling and summoning Jesus to show up and come unto them was enough for Jesus to come to the rescue of Lazarus in the midst of his sickness and they would discover that love doesn’t always immediately respond when it is called. I use the word “immediately” when making that previous statement for although love does not always “immediately” show up when it is called and summoned it does in fact show up. Love didn’t show up in the midst of the suffering of Jesus when He was being mocked, scorned, tortured, beaten and bloodied at the hands of religious and at the hands of sinners, and love wouldn’t even show up when Jesus hung there upon the cross. Love would not show up in suffering nor would it show up in crucifixion and as a direct result of this absence of love Jesus would die and His physical body would be buried in a borrowed tomb. Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding the narrative of the suffering and death of Jesus is that love—even the love of the Father—would not show up in the midst of suffering. Despite the fact the Father loved the Son He would be restrained from coming to the aid and rescue of His Son for there was something far greater at work than love. In fact it would be Jesus Himself who would declare that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Oh we must needs pay close attention to this for although love would not show up and deliver Jesus from His suffering it would still be manifested and put on full display. With this being said we must needs understand that although love might not immediately show up when it is summoned and although love might not always react and respond the way we would like to it is still present and manifested.

 

            When we speak about the suffering of Jesus—and not only the suffering of Jesus but also His crucifixion upon the cruel Roman tree—we must recognize that although the love of the Father would indeed be restrained and held back from coming to the rescue of the Son it was still manifested in the midst of that suffering and in the midst of death itself. In all reality I would dare say there are two sides to the love of the Father when we speak about the suffering and death of the only begotten Son whom the Father loved and in whom the Father was well pleased. On the one hand there was love restrained as the Father would and could not come to the rescue of the only begotten Son in the midst of His suffering and in the midst of His being tortured, mocked, scorned, beaten, falsely accused, and even crucified. The first element and aspect of this love would be its being restrained by and according to the divine will of the Father as the glory of God would be manifested in an entirely different way. The Father could have delivered Jesus from the suffering He would endure and the Father could have even delivered Jesus from the cross upon which He was crucified upon and yet it would and could not do so. With this being said we must needs understand that love would be manifested in an entirely different way for although love would be restrained from coming to the defense and rescue of the only begotten Son it would allow and permit such suffering and even death to take place that it might be manifested within our hearts and lives. Although love would be restrained from coming to the rescue of the only begotten Son in the midst of suffering and in the midst of crucifixion it would nonetheless be manifested in an entirely different manner as it would be love that would permit that suffering and death for the sake and benefit of you and I.

 

            The more we read the words which are found in the four gospels the more we must needs acknowledge and understand that in the midst of the suffering of Jesus love was indeed restrained and prevented from acting and coming to His rescue and His defense. Love would indeed be restrained and held back from acting on behalf of the only begotten Son and love would not be free to deliver Him from the suffering He would endure and experience. With this being said, however, we must needs acknowledge and understand the tremendous truth that love would and could not be manifested in deliverance from suffering and death, however, love would be manifested in resurrection from death as the Father would not allow His only begotten Son to remain buried in the borrowed tomb. Although love would and could not show up and deliver the Son from the suffering He would endure and would not deliver the Son from death it would show up and be manifested in an entirely different way. On the one hand the love of the Father would restrain and hold Him back from coming to the rescue and defense of His Son in the midst of the suffering but on the other hand it would be the love of the Father that would permit His Son to endure and experience that suffering and death for the sake and benefit of you and I. While it might indeed be true that love would indeed be restrained and held back from delivering the only begotten Son from suffering and death it would be that same love which would permit and allow that suffering and death to take place that something much greater and something much more powerful would indeed take place within the lives of all those men and women who would call upon the name of the Lord from that time until now. What’s more is that while it was true that love would be restrained and love would permit we must also acknowledge and understand that love would indeed and would in fact show up three days later after Jesus’ lifeless body would be buried in a borrowed tomb. Love would not show up in suffering nor would it show up in death, however, it would show up three days later at the tomb when the stone would be rolled away and when the power of the Holy Spirit would raise Jesus from death to life.

 

            This reality of love being restrained and love permitting and allowing must needs be acknowledge and understood within our own hearts and minds as it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth and reality of surrounding that which love can do and that which love is restrained from doing. We know that love is patient and we know that love is kind and we know that faith, hope and love abide and how the greatest of these is love. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize that there are indeed two different sides to love as there is the side of love which restrains it from showing up and acting the way we would like it to while there is the other side that permits that which we would like to think could be avoided to take place. Love would not show up when initially summoned and called by Mary and Martha and it would be restrained by the divine will of the Father that the glory of God might be seen and manifested in the earth. The apostle John made it perfectly clear that Jesus loved Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha, however, that love would not be enough for Jesus to immediately show up when He was summoned and act when He was called. Love would indeed be restrained and held back within the life of Lazarus as love would not be permitted to make its way unto this friend of Jesus when He was sick and in need of healing. There is absolutely no denying the fact that Jesus did in fact love Lazarus and we would like to think that the love of Jesus was enough for Jesus to come when He was summoned, however, what this passage reveals is that not only did Jesus not show up when He was summoned but also that Lazarus would die in the absence of Jesus.

 

            There is something truly powerful when reading the narrative of Lazarus for within this passage we are brought face to face with the fact that although love is summoned and although love is called it does not and cannot always show up when called. If there is one thing the narrative and account of Lazarus demonstrates and reveals it’s that although Jesus loved Lazarus and his two sisters and although that love was appealed to by Mary and Martha it was restrained from moving and acting independent and apart from the glory of God and the will of the Father. Jesus did indeed and did in fact love Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha, however, that love would be restrained and held back preventing Jesus from acting the way He would have wanted to and when He would have wanted to. OH it is truly something unique and worth thinking about when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture and consider how the love of Jesus would be restrained and held back—even when that one whom He loved and even when His friend would be sick and in desperate need of healing. Jesus loved Lazarus and his two sisters, however, that love would indeed and would in fact be held back and prevented from acting because there was something greater at work. With this being said, however, we must understand that love does not always show up when it is called but it always shows up because it is called. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that love did not show up when it was called and summoned by Mary and Martha, however, it would show up at the appointed time ordained by the Father because it was called. We must needs understand that love cannot and does not always show up when it is called, however, it does indeed and does in fact show up because it is called. Jesus would not show up in the midst of sickness, however, He would indeed show up in death when Lazarus’ lifeless body lie buried in that tomb within the heart of the earth.

 

            WHEN LOVE FINALLY SHOWS UP! I have previously written and firmly believe that when Jesus showed up at the tomb and graveside of Lazarus together with Mary and Martha, as well as with His disciples and those Jews who were present it wasn’t just love for this friend that showed up. I am absolutely and completely convinced that when Jesus showed up at the tomb of Lazarus it would be the love of Christ that would be manifested together with the glory of God and the power of the Spirit. It would be the apostle Paul who would speak of the same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead and I am absolutely convinced that the same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead would be the same Spirit which would raise Lazarus from the grave. There at the tomb after the stone was rolled away the love of Christ, the glory of God and the power of the Spirit would be put on full display as he which once was dead would now emerge being very much alive. In the ninth chapter we find the testimony of he who once was blind and yet now sees while in the eleventh chapter we find the testimony of he who once was dead and yet now is alive. Oh how truly incredible it is to read the words found in these passages of Scripture for the testimonies within them are truly incredible when you take the time to think about it. Jesus would declare unto His disciples when asked who sinned that this man was born blind that it was neither this man nor his parents who sinned that caused him to be born blind but that the glory of God might be manifested within his life. It would be for the demonstration and manifestation of the glory of God that this man would be born blind for at the appointed time Jesus would show up and give this man sight—something which he had not had throughout his entire life.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering that which is found in the twelfth chapter and I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the fact that after Jesus had raised Lazarus from death to life He would return unto Bethany where Lazarus and his two sisters would be present. It would be there in Bethany six days before the Passover that Jesus would show up once more in the company and presence of he who was raised from the dead. Oh imagine what it must have been like for Lazarus to have been sick and for that sickness to have claimed his life and his lifeless body lie in a tomb for four days to sit in the presence of Jesus. Imagine what it would and must have been like for Lazarus to sit at the table with the very One who had raised him from death to life and who had called him forth from the grave. One of the questions I can’t help but find myself asking is whether or not Lazarus was aware of what had taken place. I find myself thinking about and wondering whether or not Lazarus was aware of the sickness which had come upon his physical body and was aware of the fact that he actually died. Not only this but what was it like for Lazarus during those four days when his lifeless physical body lie within that tomb for four days. Not only this but I can’t help but wonder what it was like for Lazarus as the voice of Jesus would call him to come forth from the grave. What was it like when Lazarus heard that voice on the other side of life as he would not only return to life but would emerge once more into the land of the living. The resurrection of Lazarus from the dead wonderfully and powerfully demonstrates the tremendous truth that not only was he called from death to life but he was also brought back to and restored to the land of the living. Lazarus would have been dead for four days and yet despite the fact he was dead for four days he would be raised from death to life and would be restored unto his sisters and restored unto the land of the living.

 

            WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING AMONG THE LIVING AGAIN? WHAT WAS IT LIKE DYING AND BEING RAISED FROM DEATH TO LIFE? WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN YOU DIED? WHAT WAS IT LIKE AFTER YOU DIED? DO YOU REMEMBER ANYTHING ABOUT THOSE FOUR DAYS YOU WERE DEAD? Oh I sit here and consider the account of Lazarus and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the tremendous amount of questions he must have received after having been raised from death to life. What was it like for Lazarus being that one who was dead and whose body was buried in the tomb for four days before Jesus would show up, call for the stone to be rolled away and call he who was dead to emerge and come forth from the grave? Did Lazarus have any recollection or memory of the sickness which was present within his physical body prior to death? Did Lazarus remember what it was like when he died? Did Lazarus have any remembrance and memory of what it was like during those four days when his physical body lie buried in that tomb but his spirit and soul were present in the realm beyond life? What was it like for Lazarus to come back from death to life and to emerge from the grave very much alive? What was it like for Lazarus after those grave clothes had been removed from his physical body and he was permitted to live among men once more? The final command Jesus gave there at the tomb of His friend Lazarus was loose him and let him go and I can’t help but wonder what that must have been like for Lazarus after he had emerged from the grave and after he had been delivered from the grave clothes. Oh he would indeed emerge from the grave still bound with the grave clothes his body had been wrapped in, however, those grave clothes would be removed from his physical body as he would be re-presented and restored unto the land of the living.

 

            THE STONE ROLLED AWAY! EMERGING FROM THE GRAVE! DELIVERED FROM THE GRAVECLOTHES! When I come to the twelfth chapter of this New Testament gospel, I am absolutely captivated with how it begins for the apostle John describes how Jesus would come unto Bethany where Lazarus was which had been dead whom He raised from death to life. What makes this so incredibly powerful is when you consider the fact that Jesus would return unto the place where Lazarus who had been dead and buried in the tomb was raised from death to life. Six days before the Passover we find Jesus present in the place where resurrection had indeed and had in fact taken place. It’s quite interesting to read the words found in this passage of Scripture for as Jesus was preparing for His own suffering and His own death He would return unto the place where resurrection had taken place. I still can’t help but wonder what it was like for Lazarus to encounter Jesus after he had been raised from death to life. What’s more is I can’t help but wonder what it would and could have been like for Lazarus to be loosed from his graveclothes after emerging from the grave and seeing Jesus standing there with his two sisters, with the disciples and a number of the Jews round about. What went through the heart and mind of Lazarus as he was loosed from the graveclothes and saw Jesus standing there—perhaps not fully aware of what had happened. You and I both know what it’s like when we wake up in the morning and that feeling we have when we are still trying to wake up and adjust to the light and the day. We are well aware of what it’s like when we get out of bed and may even tell our spouse, or our kids, our roommates or others that we are still trying to wake up. There are some of us who feel as though we aren’t fully aware until we have had that first coffee in the morning and are essentially on autopilot for the first few moments—if not the first half an hour or hour.

 

            When I think about Lazarus having been raised from death to life I can’t help but wonder what it was like for him as he stepped out of that grave still very much bound by the graveclothes and perhaps not yet being aware that Jesus was there before him. I would love to know what it was like for Lazarus as the graveclothes were removed from his physical body and as he saw Jesus standing there together with His disciples and his two sisters. Imagine what it would have been like to see Jesus standing there after having heard His voice and come forth from his grave. Imagine being loosed from the grave clothes and when that face cloth that was round about your head was finally removed and you were able to see the sight before you. Oh what a tremendous encounter that must have been like for Lazarus for although he had not experienced Jesus in sickness he would experience him in resurrection as Jesus would call him forth from the grave. What’s more is I would dare say that the sickness which was present within the physical body of Lazarus was entirely and altogether destroyed and removed from his body when he emerged from the tomb. There is not a doubt in my mind that death might have been the instrument that was used by the Father to destroy the sickness that was present within the physical body of Lazarus and that His glory might be made manifest. Mary and Martha might have thought the answer was Jesus healing Lazarus of the sickness within his physical body and yet that which had been ordained and appointed by the Father was that sickness would be eradicated and destroyed through death.

 

            THE DIVINE INSTRUMENT OF DEATH! I can’t help but see a powerful prophetic picture found within this passage for prior to Lazarus being dead there was a sickness within his physical body that was plaguing it. That sickness threatened his entire life and even threatened to take his life and cause him to die. Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that the one whom He loved was sick and thought that Jesus would show up in sickness. What we find, however, is that Jesus would not show up in the midst of sickness but would show up in death—and not only show up in death but show up four days after Lazarus had been buried in the tomb. With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to declare that when Lazarus was raised from death to life he was raised with the sickness which was previously present within his physical body being completely removed and destroyed from his person. Oh it was indeed true that there was a sickness that plagued his physical body prior to his dying and yet what we learn and discover is that it wasn’t healing that would ultimately make Lazarus whole but death itself. Death would be the instrument that would be used to bring healing to Lazarus’ physical body for there are times when healing is not the ultimate answer to what is plaguing our lives, our bodies, our hearts, our minds and our souls. There are times when healing is not the ultimate answer nor even the end result for that which truly demonstrates the glory of God in the midst of that sickness is death. I am absolutely convinced that death was the divine instrument used by the Father above and beyond Jesus showing up and healing Lazarus of the sickness that plagued his body. What’s more is I would dare say that Jesus recognized and knew this and understood that it would be through death this sickness would be completely and utterly destroyed from his body.

 

            What I so love about the narrative of Lazarus is that not only was sickness destroyed, removed and eradicated from his physical body but death was also overturned and renounced. The more you read the narrative and account of Lazarus the more you will be brought face to face with the fact that not only did Jesus triumph over sickness in his body through death but Jesus also triumphed over death in his life through life. TRIUMPHING OVER SICKNESS THROUGH DEATH, TRIUMPHING OVER DEATH THROUGH LIFE! I firmly believe that what is present here in this passage of Scripture is not only the eradication of sickness through death but also the triumph over death through life. The more you read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more you will encounter and be brought face to face with the fact that there were two different manifestations of the glory of God present here in the life of Lazarus. On the one hand there was the eradication of that sickness which plagued his body through death while on the other hand there was the triumph over death through life. I am absolutely convinced that the true and ultimate way this sickness which was present within the physical body and life of Lazarus could be healed was through death. Death would be the divine instrument that would be used by the Father—not only that His glory might be manifested but also that sickness might be completely and utterly destroyed. I do not believe for one moment that when Lazarus emerged from the tomb very much alive that the sickness which was present within his physical body prior to death was still there. You cannot convince me that when Lazarus emerged from the tomb after having been four days buried in the heart of it that he did not emerge—not only very much alive but also completely made whole of that sickness which had previously plagued his physical body.

 

            Would it shock and surprise you if I told you that sometimes the only answer is death? Would it shock and surprise you to think and consider the fact that sometimes the only answer to the suffering we are experiencing within this life is death? Not only this but would it shock you to think and consider the fact that sometimes the only answer and solution to the sickness we are experiencing in this life is death? There are those among us who would like to think that healing is ultimately the answer for sickness and that deliverance is ultimately the answer for suffering and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. There are countless men and women among us who think and feel as though healing is the only answer to sickness within their physical body or within the physical body of another and yet the truth of the matter is that there are times when death is the only and ultimate answer. I am absolutely convinced there are times within our lives when we would like to think and believe that healing is the ultimate answer for the sickness that is present within our physical bodies and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not always the case. There are times when death is the only answer to the sickness someone is experiencing within their physical bodies and the way the Father desires to heal them is not in this life but the next. There are times when death is the only answer to the suffering someone is experiencing in this life and the way the Father desires to deliver them is not in this life but the next. With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to declare unto you that we have a great need to acknowledge the fact that there are times within this life when although we would like healing and deliverance to be the answer to sickness and suffering death is the only answer.

 

            Now I fully realize and recognize that such a statement as death is sometimes the only answer to sickness and suffering might seem far fetched and even contrary to the word of God and yet Scripture itself points to this reality being true. The more I consider the narrative of Lazarus the more I find myself encountering and coming face to face with the fact that while Mary and Martha might have thought and expected healing to be the way their brother would be made whole it would actually be through death he would be made whole. Mary and Martha thought Jesus showing up and healing their brother would have been the way he would be made whole and yet the divine will of the Father would ordain and appoint death as the instrument through which this sickness would be eradicated and destroyed from his body. In all reality I am convinced that when Lazarus died there was more which took place than simply his passing from this life to the next. I am convinced that when Lazarus died the sickness which was present within his physical body would also die and be completely and utterly destroyed. That sickness which would be present within his physical body would in fact be destroyed and removed yet it would not be destroyed and removed through healing. Remember when the disciples asked Jesus why they could not drive out the unclean spirit from the young boy whose father brought him unto them? Do you remember how Jesus responded to them by declaring that this kind comes not out but through prayer and fasting? Building upon this same type of logic and line of thought I find it necessary to declare to you that there are times when this kind cannot be healed but through death. There are times when healing is not the means nor the instrument through which sickness might be and should be healed but rather death is the divine instrument that is used.

 

            Building upon this line of thinking even further I feel there is a direct connection to the spiritual nature of sin for each and every one of is and has been born into sin. The apostle Paul wrote that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and that the wages of sin is death. We know and understand that sin is indeed a cancer which plagues our physical body and threatens our very lives and existence. With this being said we must needs recognize and understand that the only answer to the plague and problem of sin within our lives is death. It is important to note that the death I am speaking about is not a physical death where we are laid inside a coffin and placed six feet into the ground. The death I am speaking about is a spiritual death where we are buried with Christ in baptism in His death and are crucified with Christ. When we think about and consider the plague of sin within our physical bodies we must needs recognize and understand that the only answer to this problem and cancer within our physical bodies, within our hearts, within our minds, and within our souls is through death. The apostle Paul recognized and understood this when writing unto the saints which were at Rome as well as the churches in Galatia for he would wonderfully and powerfully declare that being crucified with Christ and mortifying or putting to death our sinful members is the only way to truly experience freedom, victory, and deliverance over sin. Just as death was the instrument used by the living God to destroy that sickness which was present within the physical body of Lazarus so also is death the instrument through which the sickness, the disease, the plague and the cancer of sin within our hearts and lives can indeed be destroyed and eradicated. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament epistle written unto the saints at Rome as well as within the epistle written unto the churches in Galatia:

 

            “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so man of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. FOR HE THAT IS DEAD IS FREED FROM SIN. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:1-14).

            “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulterees: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we are in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did workin our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, THAT BEING DEAD WHEREIN WE WERE HELD; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:1-6).

 

            “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin: but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also qui\cken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:1-11).

 

            “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I though the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:16-21).

 

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the fact that within the narrative of Lazarus—not only do we see love restrained but we also see that love doesn’t always show up when it is summoned. What’s more is that although love doesn’t always and can’t always show up when it is summoned it always shows up because it is called. In addition to this we must recognize that when Lazarus was raised from death to life—not only was death conquered and triumphed through and within his life but I would also argue and contend that when he was raised to life the sickness which was previously in his physical body was entirely and altogether destroyed. I firmly believe that death was the instrument that was necessary to drive out and destroy the sickness within the physical body of Lazarus and that when he was raised to life again—not only was that sickness healed and eradicated but death itself was triumphed over. Pause and think about the fact that Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to heal their brother Lazarus of the sickness within his physical body and yet Jesus would not rush to heal Him because He knew the will of the Father and the glory of God would be manifested through death. Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to show up and heal their brother of the sickness which plagued his body, however, what we find taking place instead is Jesus showing up and not only destroying sickness through death but also triumphing over death through resurrection and life. Lazarus could have been healed of the sickness which plagued his body, however, instead of being healed of that sickness it would be destroyed and eradicated through death. Once death had accomplished its work in the physical body of Lazarus the time would come for him to be raised from death to life and be restored to the land of the living. Oh that we would recognize and understand this as it calls and draws our attention to the fact that there are times when healing of sickness and deliverance from suffering is not the ultimate answer and that what is truly needed is death. Oh that we would truly submit our understanding to the divine will of the Father and recognize that He knows exactly what He is doing and has ordained and appointed time for His plan and purposes to be accomplished.

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